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First time in Montreal - late november

My wife and I are making our first trip to Montreal over the (US) Thanksgiving weekend in late November. We're staying at Auberge Les Passants du Sans Soucy in Old Montreal. Breakfast is included in our hotel, so I don't need any help with that. We're will to range all over the city for great food. I was hoping you could offer some commentary with things already on our list.

Thursday lunch: Olive + Gourmando (we're looking for something casual in Old Montreal -- how will this work?)

Thursday dinner: Joe Beef

Friday lunch: We're going to be at the Oratory of St. Joseph). Is it a reasonable walk to head across Mont Royal and over to Schwartz's, St Viateur, etc.?

Friday dinner: I would love a recommendation for a good Middle Eastern place. How is Alep? It gets good reviews, but I'm not sure if there is an even better place for this type of food.

Saturday lunch: We will head to Marche Jean Talon just before lunch. I am assuming that we can eat lunch there, between samples, bakeries, and little prepared food stands, is that right?

Saturday dinner: Au Pied de Cochon

Joe Beef
2491 Rue Notre-Dame W, Montreal, QC H3J1N6, CA

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  1. "We're going to be at the Oratory of St. Joseph). Is it a reasonable walk to head across Mont Royal and over to Schwartz's, St Viateur, etc.?"

    yes... this is a VERY long walk (last thing you want is to get to Schwartz's tired and hungry and have to wait in a silly line up)... take bus or metro.

    1. I think I'd walk through McGill U, up Mont Royal, and over to the Oratory. Then bus to Schwartz's. An alternative to Alep is Kaza Maza. I've never eaten at Alep but I love Kaza Maza. Alep is near Jean-Talon market so rather than go to the same neighbourhood twice, heading to Kaza Maza will allow you to see more of the city. Once at Schwartz's you can stay around the Plateau and then it's an easy walk over to Kaza Maza on Parc Ave. I'm not sure when you'd fit in a visit to St. Viateur bagels. Though it works geographically, it's be tough, stomach-wise, to squeeze it in between Schwartz's and Kaza Maza.

      1. You can always start at Schwartz's and take your order to go, traverse up the mountain and picnic at either Beaver Lake or the Mont Royal cemetary...

        1 Reply
        1. re: OliverB

          I wouldn't recommend a picnic in late November...

        2. The walk from the Oratory to Schwartz's via Mount Royal would take about 90 minutes, and the first half would be mainly uphill. The scenery and views are great once you reach the mountain but not so interesting before.

          St. Viateur is in northern Mile End, not exactly near Schwartz's, and the direct route from the Oratory wouldn't take you over Mount Royal. If it's bagels you're after, Fairmount Bagel is a little closer to the deli, though you're still looking at a 20 minute walk. The 51 bus, which stops in front of the Oratory, takes you to Mile End and the Plateau.

          The excellent Alep is on Jean-Talon, a stone's throw from the market. You could kill two birds by hitting the market on Friday late afternoon and then having dinner at Alep. Alternatively, on Friday have dinner at Damas, Kaza Maza's upscale brother, on Parc only a block south of St. Viateur, whose eponymous bagel factory is open 24/7. (And, hurrah!, Damas has finally got its liquor permit.)

          Jean Talon Market has plenty of food options, from grazing at stands to sandwiches, crêpes and the like at booths, to sit-down cafés. There's also a wealth of options on the surrounding streets.

          1 Reply
          1. re: carswell

            i loved queue de cheval and moiche's for steakhouses. toque was exellent. bonaparte was very good french restaurant in old montreal.

          2. What an odd coincidence--came across your post while looking for recommendations for Thanksgiving weekend...my mother and brother and I are heading up to Montreal Wed - Friday and we happen to be staying in the same place as you! Joe Beef and Au Pied de Cochon were on my shortlist as well.

            8 Replies
            1. re: ethorson

              What other food destinations do you have on your agenda? I've got Joe Beef, Au Pied de Cochon, Jean Talon Market, Atwater Market (?), Schwartz's, St. Viateur Bagel, Alep, and Olive+Gourmando. Perhaps I've overlooked something?

              Joe Beef
              2491 Rue Notre-Dame W, Montreal, QC H3J1N6, CA

              1. re: glutton

                While Joe Beef and Au Pied du Cochon are good recommendations, I suggest you bring along your lipitor since the food there is loaded with fat ;) As for a Middle Eastern suggestion I strongly recommend Damas on Parc Avenue. Not too many reviews for them yet since they opened recently, they're sister restaurant Kaza Maza has been around with great reviews. I only suggest it because they have more authentic home cooked dishes than your typical kebabs found in other places.

                Joe Beef
                2491 Rue Notre-Dame W, Montreal, QC H3J1N6, CA

                1. re: 3adas

                  poor restaurants in that construction mess on parc,--there was a nice review of damas in community paper mirror yesterday

                  1. re: 3adas

                    I have some concerns about the fattiness of the food at APC. Do they let diners share things? That's our usual strategy for contending with this situation, but some restaurants look down on the practice.

                    1. re: glutton

                      The food at APDC does not have to be fatty - it depends on what you order. You can certainly share things - portions are quite large. They also offer smaller portions of some items, like their tartare and fries (which, with a salad, makes a fine meal IMHO) and I'm almost positive I've had a half order of their foie gras poutine before, although I don't see it on the menu. As for Joe Beef, I have never noticed their food to be loaded with fat, although portions are large (again, sharing is the way to go there) - perhaps 3adas would like to clarify that comment?

                      Joe Beef
                      2491 Rue Notre-Dame W, Montreal, QC H3J1N6, CA

                      1. re: cherylmtl

                        Portions are large absolutely! Last time I was there I ordered the fish (can't remember what it was, it's been a while), I got two whole filets. One filet was more than enough, especially after you realize it was seared in butter (lots of it), then the two filets were layered over each other so that the bottom filet soaked up all the butter of the top filet and then all the butter underneath it. Again, I'm not saying it's not good, but maybe cherylmtl's suggestion to share is the way to go.

                        1. re: cherylmtl

                          Joe Beef is not light either! I absolutly loved the lobster spaghetti I had over there last time, a whole lobster over spaghetti with a sauce made of lobster bisque and bacon! It doesn't taste fatty but definitly is!

                          Joe Beef
                          2491 Rue Notre-Dame W, Montreal, QC H3J1N6, CA

                    2. re: glutton


                      If you are tight on time I wouldn't bother with the Atwater market unless you had wanted to walk along the Lachine canal. Jean Talon market is much much better

                  2. Yes it is definitly a reasonable walk to head across Mont Royal and over to Schwartz's, St viateur. I highly Reccomend that you both go to to Cote St - Luc BBQ, Buffalo Bills ( wings restauraunt not team),Wilensky's light lunch, and Marathon Souvlaki. Cote St Luc BBQ has the best Barbecue Chicken and Fries in the world. Their fries are amazing and the chicken comes with a dipping sauce if you search cote st luc bbq on google images it should be the first photo. If it is not it is not the first photo, it is the one that says rotisserie cote-st-luc bar-b-q it shows the delicious fries and bbq chicken. By the way you should dip the fries in the sauce too. Marathon Souvlaki has the best Greek restauraunts in the world. I know some Greek people who say it is better than Greece's Greek restaurants! You should try the doner, chicken Souvlaki, with the best tzatziki sauce there is. Their Garlic bread is also the best. Buffalo Bills has the best wings in the world. BUt be careful it is very hot! Wilensky's light lunch serves a classic Montreal Food called Wilensky Sandwich. Inside is salami, and baloni and mustard grilled in a delicious bread. Please reply if you try some of these restauraunts. I hope you and your wife have a great time to Montreal.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: habsfan110

                      Oh dear. Cote St Luc BBQ, Buffalo Bills and Marathon Souvlaki are all highly questionable recommendations for someone's first trip to Montreal.

                      In fact, Montreal is one of the most pathetic wings towns out there; why anyone would even think to recommend a wing place for your first trip, much less a crappy chain place like the one suggested, is way beyond me.

                      Best advice is to stick with places that get multiple recommendations here on this board, or that show up in many threads over the years. None of these three would make the cut.

                      Lastly, NO it is not recommended to walk from the Oratory down to Schwartz's, especially not in frigid late November. These two places are on opposite sides of the mountain. What you COULD do, if you time it right, is to take bus #11 over the mountain, and walk down a few blocks on St. Laurent until you reach Schwartz's. (Be warned, the sign actually reads "Charcuterie Hebraique" - but at most mealtimes there's a lineup out the door so you could look for that too.)

                      Regarding your question about Alep, be aware there is also its sister restaurant, Petit Alep, located right next door. I have only eaten at the latter once but it was fantastic. I believe the food comes from the same kitchen but Petit Alep is more casual and less expensive (and as a result, often noisier and more crowded).

                      Hope you enjoy your visit!

                      1. re: anachemia

                        But Buffalo Bills is the best wing place. And, what about Cote st bbq,wilensky's light lunch,mister steer burger, and marathon souvlaki?

                        1. re: anachemia

                          I will admit that a chicken wing place might not be the first place to visit in Montreal. That said, if you want to experience Montreal and Quebec from a real Montrealer's perspective, then a visit to Cote St. Luc BBQ and Marathon should be at the top of your list. BBQ chicken and souvlaki houses are the staples of a Montrealer's and a Quebecer's diet. The food is consistently tasty and inexpensive and there is no pretention whatsoever. People go there to eat good food and not be seen or to feel better about themselves for having eaten there. Yes, if you want fine Greek, there is always Milos. However for someone who lives in New York City now, I can get Milos right here in Midtown Manhattan. Insofar as Greek food goes, I have been to souvlaki houses both on and off the Island of Manhattan and not one comes close to Marathon Souvlaki in Montreal. Wilensky's Light Lunch is in fact a time warp and the food can be easily replicated. It is all about experiencing the ambience from a Montreal of the past. For Montreal style Rib Steak, you must visit Moishes or Rib N Reef. Also, you must have a drink which has been an instituion in Montreal for 80 years called Orange Julep. The building that houses that institution is the 8th wonder of the world.

                          My compatriot will tell you to go to some eclectic French place that you will say is memorable because of the ambience or rude service. With all due respect, go where the purelaine (pure wool) Quebecers go and you will be talking about the food for the rest of your life.

                          Wilensky's Light Lunch
                          34 Av Fairmount W, Montreal, QC H2T2M1, CA

                          1. re: habsfan110

                            Those sure aren't the staples of my diet, nor of anyone I know here, whether francophone, anglophone or allophone.

                            Though this guy may well be pulling our collective leg.

                      2. re: habsfan110

                        Is this an Andy Kaufman-style gag where you're not sure if the person's joking? 'Cause I really have no idea.

                      3. At Jean Talon..if you walk by the little glass case full of samosa..get some!!! she makes some of the best out there, I love walking around the market munching on those!!!

                        1. My hubby, 4 young adult offspring and I are going to Montreal over American Thanksgiving weekend also. Our youngest daughter goes to McGill, so we started this tradition last year.

                          I came to the boards to check out your opinions of Au Pied de Cochon for our Saturday night dinner. It sounds like it might be USA night. ;-)

                          We will definitely go to Ma'amm Bolduc for poutine Thursday night. I'm cooking our turkey dinner at my daughter's apartment on Friday. We're looking for something special, but not fussy for Saturday night. You know, Mom and Dad taking the college kids to a place they don't go themselves.

                          My son suggested Au Pied de Cochon because of the foie gras menu. I could pick up a sampling of foie gras at Atwater Market to have at my daughter's apt while we are cooking dinner on Friday. Or is it a great place and we really should go? We are guessing our party of 7 (8 if we bring our daughter's roommate) will spend $600 - $700 for dinner. Does that sound about right?

                          Or, do you have another recommendation? My daughter lives in the Plateau off of Pins near Saint-Laurent. Some of us are staying with her. The rest are staying in a hotel in the Latin Quarter. Walking distance is a plus.

                          Baerbaer - I agree the samosas at Jean-Talon are delicious.


                          11 Replies
                          1. re: deeseiffer

                            When I called APC for reservations, she said they were all booked on Saturday night. FYI...

                              1. re: deeseiffer

                                You might want to look at this post. Sounds like parents/college kids had a nice meal at Rumi. I've been once and thought it was pretty good.


                                5198 Rue Hutchison, Outremont, QC H2V4A9, CA

                                1. re: foodinspace

                                  Please stay away from Buffalo Bills, their wings are horrible. Marathon Souvlaki is very far from "best Greek restauraunts in the world" and is nowhere near the gyro you find in Greece. Marathon is avg but don't go out of your way for it and definitely not worth going to if you are here for a few days. Their tzatziki is made with sour cream not yogurt. Cote St Luc BBQ also nothing special, go to Romados if you want a good chicken. I'm almost wondering if this poster is trying to be funny.

                                  1. re: ios94

                                    Not to worry -- I wasn't intending to haul my butt up to Montreal and feast on chicken wings and cheap souvlaki. While both of those things can be very good and I'm happy to indulge from time to time, it just seems absurd to go to Montreal and eat those foods when I live in New York. It's like eating a "great bagel" in Rome -- just because it's the best in town doesn't mean it's good.

                                    Also, I would contend that the recommendations I've gotten are not stuffy, pretentious places, as someone suggested. Surely, there are restaurants like that and some of them might exist in Montreal and get mentioned on this board, but everything I read tells me that Joe Beef and APC are not those places. They're simply too gluttonous to appeal to a pretentious crowd.

                                    Joe Beef
                                    2491 Rue Notre-Dame W, Montreal, QC H3J1N6, CA

                            1. re: deeseiffer

                              You could always try Laloux for Saturday night - might fit the bill. It's close enough to where your daughter lives. For a group of 7 or 8, you might have a problem getting into many places on a Saturday night, though, if you haven't already reserved.

                              1. re: cherylmtl

                                My recommendation for Saturday: Les Trois P'tit Bouchons. Well chosen-well priced wine list, outstanding innovative dishes and great service. I might sound like a shill, but I find this place hard to beat.

                              2. re: deeseiffer

                                Thanks, Everyone! We have a reservation for the 8:30 seating at Le P'tit Plateau on Saturday night.

                                BTW - We walked past Au Pied de Cochon last night on our way back from Ma'amm Bolduc. Even for a Thursday night, it was packed. Every other resto we passed had 2 or 3 tables. Better planning next time!

                                Jean-Talon today for lunch and shopping for the sides for our turkey dinner tonight.

                                Happy Thanksgiving to the Americans here in Montreal.

                                  1. re: deeseiffer

                                    Don't forget to bring wine on Saturday!

                                    1. re: thebenc

                                      Thank you!

                                      We did remember the wine and had a fabulous meal at Le P'tit Plateau Saturday night. Very, very fun weekend overall. Even in sloppy weather, we love Montreal.

                                1. Have returned from our trip, so here is how things played out.

                                  Arrived Thursday morning and had pastry and tea at olive + gourmando. The brioche with chocolate and banana was outstanding. It was nice and busy, but not hectic. We liked it so much we returned for lunch a few hours later - another nice meal. The Mac & cheese with mushrooms was decadently good.

                                  Dinner on thurs night was at Joe beef. This was the best meal we had on the trip. Great setting and wonderfullynice, knowledgable service. The food was great. My wife had the frisee with lardons, which was one of the finest things either of us have ever eaten. I'll sound the rest of my life trying to duplicate it at home (and failing). She also had the stuffed crab, which was rich and luscious, though a tad salty. I had the pork chop with root vegetables. It was the size of my head, which was excessive, but damn was it good. Perfectly tender, perfectly juicy all the way through. I was stuffed like a fat American on thanksgiving, but it was so good I couldn't stop.

                                  Friday included stops at Atwater market (great vendor for natural, no pectin preserves) and st viateur bagel. I will not waste your time with another ode to these bagels other than to say thet they're fantastic. To each his own, but I like better than NYC bagels. Their matzo was also very good.

                                  Friday dinner was au pied de cochon, which was rich and good. Pork rinds were light and crunchy. The special was essentially a little apple tart with seared foie gras and a sweet-sour sauce -- outstanding. It was one of those things that you cannot and would not make at home. Their endive salad with blue cheese was good and a nice balance with the other food. The duck fat fries were great. The duck breast was a great entree. The creme brûlée was fine, but the caramelized sugar on top was fantasticallyexecuted and set it apart dorm all the other creme brûlées I've eaten.

                                  On saturday we snacked at marche Jean talon, which was fun. The cheese store in the corner is great and helpful. The pastries at ryad in the center of the market were really good. Lunch was at Petit Alep and was very good. We sruck with the classics and the mouhamara was outstanding.

                                  Dinner on Saturday was at DNA in old Montreal. Te food was all good and I have a ton of respect for what they're trying to do with local food. Perhaps because it's so slick and there's a thin layer of pretension, I just did not enjoy it as much as the other restaurants. Still, the food was very good and the chef has some creative ideas. I particularly liked the trumpet mushroom crostini with quail eggs.

                                  All in all, it was a great eating trip. I love the pig and I love maple, so iwas bound to be happy with the quebecois foods. Thanks to all for the recs.

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: glutton

                                    I really enjoyed this comprehensive review of your foodie excursion, it was fun to read and I could almost visualize the dishes without having the intake of the calories of course. Thanks for taking the time to share your experience with us.

                                    1. Olive et gourmando is great, the food is good and especially love the ambience and for people watching gorgeous crowd. Alep is good- try Petit Alep it's right NeXT to Alep but it is more casual and cheaper prices. Also in old Montréal for casual restaurant there is Chez Vallier . Very cosy and nice menu too.

                                      1. how was your visit? what restaurants did you try?

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: habsfan110

                                          It's all in the post from dec 1 above